April 27, 2008

Private Submarines Versus Personal Dirigibles: Discuss

Noting from the Anchorage Daily News this morning that Mr. Charles Wohlforth is releasing his "as told to" book on Dave Rose, who was a primary driver for the Alaska Permanent Fund, I think this is an appropriate moment to discuss a topic of primary importance. But first we should offer congratulations on the book release to Mr. Wohlforth, author of such famous books as "The Whale and Supercomputer," Frommer's Alaska 2007, " "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Limpets" (and of course the movie version), "The Nastiest Stripper" (the novelization of the upcoming Discovery Channel Alaska reality series), and an early collection of metaphorical poetry, "Snap!- I Clear the Car Window with a Sammy Hagar Cassette."

Let's say us former and present Alaskans sued the state for investing our tax money from the 70s and 80s money in something other than bottled water futures and then won $100 mil in the settlement.

Then we would face a stark choice: buy a personal submarine, or a personal blimp?

One allows stately travel through the skies, and a more enjoyable commute time with a slight risk of crashing in a way amusing to others. One opens the wonders of the deep. Which is better?

April 25, 2008

Our Letter of Marque is on The Internet

There was an incident today with a ship "hired" by the U.S. Navy that fired on bunch of Iranian attack dinghys. Big enough issue to move the price of oil.

First, let me comment that I had no idea we had armed merchant ships working for us. When did this happen again? It seems to have been armed with machine guns and water pistols, so to speak.

Second, the Westward Venture's position is here on the Internet. I suppose it's safe since Iran doesn't have the Internet. Oh, it does? Hmm.

Does the little red dot flash when it's shooting something? Watch and find out.

In Which the Artist States Things

I'm publishing a requested artist statement, rewritten from other things. Take that, blithe bloggery!


Artist Statement


Each painting, each drawing, every image and object created by an active human consciousness potentially connects to all other such objects and their formative processes – and like music, the substance of this dialectic is not interchangeable with written language. My paintings argue that within the nexus of vision, material, illusion, and painting process is an irreplaceable process for understanding, in Gauguin’s well-known phrase, where we come from, what we are, where are we going – questions too beautiful for the comfort of contemporary ears, and perhaps too easy to deconstruct your way out of. To simply understand the physical, temporal, visual, and emotional presence of another person in the same room is a rich problem with no simple paradigm, and painting is well suited to juggling the different aspects of this inexhaustible complexity.

The most recent paintings developed during my MFA program at the University of Washington in 2001 from a traditional figure drawing experiment where a model moves, and new drawings at each movement are superimposed on the previous drawing. This idea of a still image as a description of the passage of time was famously used in Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, which itself was based in early motion capture photography. In my work, the direction is reversed; where the early moderns were embracing technology, metal, speed, time and gunning for the future, this work stuffs the 20th century back into observational painting traditions; the notion of time employed is organic and human, photography bypassed, the marks muscular but pushed into pictorial space, the synthesis of mood, process and image elevated, a question clarified internally within the painting process itself.

Painting demands awareness of each element which creates the painting, both technically and in terms of subject and subject matter. Art puts out tendrils of sensing into the most delicate and fleeting of concepts and experience. It can extend the possibilities of what all people can become aware of; it adds to collection of all art works and processes, making available a bright little packet of new information to anyone who cares to examine it. Our experience of the world, and perhaps what the world is, was changed by J.M.W. Turner as it was by Newton.

Concepts which simply illustrate written language are incomplete; conceptual art’s jokeiness wears thin and Pop Art is exhausted, often indistinguishable from its ubiquitous and uncritically capitalist subject matter. But this is not a defense of painting as paint - paint and painting processes are only useful inasmuch as they enable intellectually rigorous art. If little tubes of mud still teach us about the nature of being, identity, philosophy, love, hate, politics, the texture of living flesh and the true nature of blue, it is wonderful, and to be studied with joy.

Anselm Kiefer, perhaps the most ambitious painter working, pushes this most ancient of media into its full nature and impact, and he has no embarrassment for his incisive, emotional, individual, brush and mud-drunk process. Some of the better painters today don’t work with paint: James Turrell, Gary Hill. But they all have the same attentiveness to material, to space, to specificity and to the implication of infinity which I believe the most powerful artwork depends on.

Pushing around the mud to chase the temporal and solidify the ephemeral, I embrace painting traditions, but painting is art to the extent that it continues to create art. This most ancient of media, an almost curious shelter in the contemporary blizzard of pop images, provides irreproducible processes for the exploration of our nature as visual thinkers, as identities and cultures, as breathing, bleeding creatures struggling to be fully conscious of their time and place.

April 24, 2008

On Art

Creature Comforts on Art.

For more fun, count the references. Props to Aardman.

April 21, 2008

Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.


A road, morning. Enter a carriage, with JULES and VINCENT, murderers.

J: And know'st thou what the French name cottage pie?
V: Say they not cottage pie, in their own tongue?
J: But nay, their tongues, for speech and taste alike
Are strange to ours, with their own history:
Gaul knoweth not a cottage from a house.
V: What say they then, pray?
J: Hachis Parmentier.
V: Hachis Parmentier! What name they cream?
J: Cream is but cream, only they say le crème.
V: What do they name black pudding?
J: I know not;
I visited no inn it could be bought.

More canst be found here..

April 20, 2008

Those who do not learn the lessons of History...

... are doomed to repeat them

in summer school.

April 18, 2008

Hillary Clinton Gets Bitter And Clings To Joe Lieberman

Well then. Those nagging feelings that Hillary Clinton would sell out the broad left of the Democratic Party - by which I define everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman- are born out by audio evidence.

Hillary Clinton: How dare MoveOn.Org show up and vote in Democratic caucuses. Note the B.S. about MoveOn.Org opposing the war in Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton, Last year: You MoveOn.Org people are awesome.

April 16, 2008

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Backscrub at the Bloodbath

Petunia Mathelby stood backlit in the pale green light of a greasy window, wearing an ivory white dress so thin it made cheesecloth look Calvinist. She made the kind of silhouette that sears your mind like someone dropped your brain on a barbeque grill – that kind of sauce-slathered slattern that smokes out more trouble than Mrs O’Leary’s cow. Petunia was a proud member of the Wobblies All Girl-Local 636, Foregirl in her metal shop, and I was welded on Petunia like a 40,000 psi braising rod on 3/4" steel plate. Her long black hair draped over one eye, and then one sculptured shoulder, and kept going like a midnight waterfall bubbling merrily through the snow-covered buttes of Western Girlsylvania. My eyes buttered her toned arms, her calves like upside-down bowling pins, which having been buttered, might drop easy. I watched her now, like I'd once watched a bus driving off the Bay bridge and crashing into a passenger ferry which then hit an oil tanker which drifted into the former carnival on Treasure Island where the burning Ferris Wheel skipped its mounts and rolled into the ocean, flicking flaming fun-seeking suckers into the sea at intervals with a splash and a long “ hiss.” When that or Petunia happens, you watch close, and the fact that the grubby little room we’d staked out now was full of swastikas, commemorative Goering ballet figurines, radioactive pastry and half-eaten Ripple mit Schinkenkraut was a minor distraction. The view, that sultry, slinky, splitter-Trotskyist view of Petunia was just a perq I’d have to declare on my love taxes. We were on the job now and Petunia and I made up the spear-point of the Allies, the X you cut in the lead tip of bullet to make it explode and dig a hole in your target the size of a road-kill gopher.

Now it’s true Petunia was a communist, but she was also an anarchist, so she hated Stalin like cherry and anchovy pie. She was more the kind of ravishing Red frail who made coil pottery and resurrected folk songs from the dead and gathered crowberries in the Sierras - the Reds on the side of the angels and the Marines, and all together we were going to take down Hitler like an evil clown circus tent. (Which I'd done in some detail in the case of the Red Nose Honking; to this day the sound of deflating clown shoes sends a chill up my spine, like I’ll never smile again.)

But it wasn’t lust in the air, unless you counted the rats we’d caught in flagrant delicto under the Fleischkase in the icebox. We’d tracked down Stingy Wheels’s flop; the American Nazi relief pitcher for the San Francisco Seals, pastry chef and Uranium smuggler still stalked California like a life insurance salesman at vampire family reunion. (Get it, Pal? They’re immortal.) No one west of Wyoming was safe, including Utah, and even though I wasn't keen on Utah after that incident where I'd tracked down a book of Golden Plates in an old opium den that had been embossed with a screwdriver and everyone suddenly caught a bad case of the crazies and chased me out of town with actual pitchforks they apparently kept around for that purpose, it was still America and I'd die for my country as long as I could keep convincingly stalling on my bar tab, and without actually dying. Never returning to Salt Lake City was a very small price to pay for freedom.

Through an old contact, Bill, the Viscount Phillerph Von Van Der Pforffen the Fourth's former cobbler, we'd got a hot tip from a radioactive old shoelace and using a truck-mounted Gieger counter found Stingy Wheels' latest hideout rotting above a dive bar in the Mission district called V.P. Tango's Mortuary and Travel. A folk-music hootenanny was scheduled later that night. Petunia knew the place, sang "John Brown's Body" there just last week. I missed it, having gotten a case of the Earnest Contralto Flu.

Now we were crouched in the room, ready to strike like union Tigers. Old green and gold wallpaper peeled from the walls, vacuum tubes and electrical parts were scattered everywhere but all carefully labeled. There were piles of papers in 3 languages, all of them German. There was a big pot of cold bratwurst and cabbage on the stove, a souvenir bobble-head of Kaiser Wilhelm from the '36 Olympics; in the corner sat a music stand with Brahams concerto and a cello with a swastika. It was the Room of the Enemy. Rent weekly, daily or hourly. However long evil takes. Rent to kill!

Petunia’s expression changed, her eyebrows rising, her eyes narrowing. She partly closed the blinds in the dank hotel room and cocked her machine pistol, holding it close to her face, where a little dribble of fresh gun oil dripped down into her suprasternal notch and drained slowly down to bouncy, billowy places. The sunlight cast shadows through the blinds that wrapped around that doll like chocolate drizzles on an éclair.

A car engine came close and shut off, the engine pinging as it cooled. "He's here," Petunia said, and looked at me, her darks eyes smoldering with, what was it? Girl-lust? The prospect of icing a a for-real Nazi for keepsies? I had a horrible feeling she was already dreaming up a folk song about it. But Petunia Mathelby was a work-toned fascist-vexing vixen, fierce for the fight, and in her heart, the big gushy one right behind those awesome tits, she knew the absence of God was on our side.

"He" could only mean Stingy Wheels. The very name caused chills and discomfort and a slight stinging sensation. I slammed back a good slug of bad giggle-juice, and peeked through the blinds. The big doors on the Blue Buick slammed in succession. Three slams. One Stingy, two goons, I figured. A chance for target practice.

After three years, a dozen corpses, and a hundred dead ends, Danger had arrived, Danger German-style, accompanied by a couple of gummy-looking greasers like something you'd scrape off your shoes, their faces like pressed hams with zits instead of cloves. Maybe they were more like the gelatinous glop between the ham and the can that slopped down on the plate with a sucking sound that begged the word oleaginous. Flash!, Dumbkoff: they were a bunch of big Nazi jerks.

Violence was about to condense out of the still, hot air, like the way they distill Barney’s ‘Violent O’Paddy Whiskey in East Botswanna in the rainy season, which I polished off from the flask. It tasted like chrome tanning solution and distilled sheep.

I pulled out my new .38, the one with Brughel the Elder's 99 Netherlandish Proverbs engraved on the handle, and then my old Navy Colt, then a couple of hand grenades and set up the mortar behind the couch and readied an old rusty knife, and hid a crossbow behind the door, fitted the brass knuckles and noted where the nearest board with a nail in it was.

"Petunia, quick, get in the closet, crack the door, and keep that gun right between Stingy's beady little eyes." She went. I had to think. First thing to do would be scrape those two glops off that ham Stingy Wheels with a .38 caliber meat scraper.

The room was overheated, moldy, dark. You could see the tip of Petunia's gun barrel pointing through the crack toward the front door. I stood next to the wall on the inside of the main door. We waited for the three pairs of fascist feet to thunder up the long wooden stairs. After three years and a trail of bodies longer than my bar tab at the Rusty Hobnail, I was about to drop the boom on Stingy Wheels like a piano from a fifth story jazz club. The tension was thicker than ham gel in cold pea soup.

Then there was a light little knock, and the door, unlocked, open meekly.

"Helloooooooooo??"' said a friendly female voice. "It's Ms. Lillydale, I'm just here with the Census Bureau! Hellooooooooooo?!! Anyone home?" A pleasantly plump old bird in gingham and lace and an enormous purple hat with an arrangement of Daisies walked in, clutching a large green binder with "U.S. Government Survey, 1942" stamped on it. "Helloooooooooooo?!!" She came in the room as I tried to shrink into the wall behind the door.

The heavy sound of three Krauts storming up the stairs began to shake the hall.

Standing right next to me on the other side of the door, this Lily-Dale suddenly turned the other direction and stepped back into the hall.

"Why Jeffrey, you old dear, I haven't seen you since you worked the taffy booth at the Crystal Market ! It's your old Aunt Linda!

"Oh...Oh...Aunt Linda! I'm so...." said the voice, the menacing, hissy voice of the dreaded Jeff "Stingy" Wheels . Only a 1/2 inch of oak stood between him and the voice of St. Peter telling him to try the other door.

I caught a glimpse of Petunia peeking through the nearly closed door of the closet. Her face liplessly begged for an explanation. All I could do was shrug.

"Well, Jeffrey Dear, I was out making my little effort here for the War, you know, and I saw your name down at the Post Office, you know, where Mr. Henley started working after the accident with the combine, and I thought, well My Goodness, but I haven't seen Little Jeffrey in years - years it must be! - 5 or 6, I'm certain, and perhaps as many as seven, and since I was down here interviewing citizens for the Census I thought I should come by - and Oh! how nice you look all grown up Jeffrey! - oh but you look tired, darling, perhaps you have some tea I could make you in here."

It was hell in there, watching Stingy Wheels breathe the free air of America, with me standing a foot away, ready to plug him if he twitched an eyebrow, or thought about twitching an eyebrow, or looked at anyone in such a way that indicated that he might at some point in the future think about twitching an eyebrow, and unable to do much more than shoot him a dirty look, and barely that, because Mrs. Lily-Dale seemed like both an extremely nice person and potential witness..

She came in and waddled straight to the closet and opened it to find Petunia.

"Oh hello Dearie! Jeffrey, I didn't know you had company. I'm Mrs. Lily-Dale" She thrust out her hand to Petunia, who had to shift the pistol into the other hand quickly to greet Mrs. Lily-Dale, who simply didn't seem to register that it was odd for a girl to be in the closet. "Miss...Miss Mathelby," said Petunia. Then Mrs. Lily-Dale spied me.

"I had no idea you were so popular, Jeffery, and who is this fine-looking young man?" she said, walking right to me behind the door. Stingy looked at me, turned white as a sheet, and stiffened into total uncertainty. He knew me since the incident in Barcelona with the exploding tomato shipment for Franco. But now he was a rat staring at a rat-trap with a both a big hunk of cheese and a Pan-Am ticket to Paraguay sitting on the trigger.

To greet this Aunt Lily-Dale, I had to scramble to shift hands too, but I fumbled it, and the .38 dropped on the wooden floor with a thud that seemed to echo to Twin Peaks.

"Is this your pistol, Dear? why you must be in a very exciting line of work! And you are?," she asked, handing my gun back." I could see Stingy motioning for his goons to ice it down.

"Mack, Ma'am. I'm an old business associate of Stingy's -we go way back. "

"Yes," said Stingy, giving me a worried, desperately searching look, like I was the dinner bill at the Cotton Club that he couldn't pay.

The only sound other than Mrs. Lily-Dale capering sweetly about the room and talking about a new breed of lovely Petunias - the name had set her off - was the sound of gun safeties being clicked off, muffled slightly by gabardine pockets.

The violence yet simmered, and Mrs. Lily Dale was the lid. Ironically, she was now making tea. Soon she came out with a tray, little china cups and a teapot in decorative rose-covered cozy. She dawdled like America standing by Britain in a World War. It was irritating, like trying to cash a check to get the ransom money at the bank and waiting behind some old coot trying to roll his nickels. Beads of frustration sweat rolled down my brow. The pressed cardboard faces of Stingy’s goons tried to glower, but just pinched themselves up like they were constipated. Petunia’s eyes rolled like a locomotive down an embankment. Now everyone in the room had something unusual in common: we were impatiently waiting to be shot.

"....Now I don't want to keep you boys from your fun, but have it while it’s nice and hot" she was saying now, handing out hot tea in little cups, which of course we had to take our hands off the guns to grab. It was about the time I’d raised the tea to my mouth that I realized that Stingy Wheels would not likely have a tea cozy in his kitchen and I looked up to see Mrs. Lily-Dale holding a big ugly black drum barrel.45 Thompson Submachine gun, waving it airly in our direction, and wearing a wry look.

“Keep your paws on the teacup, Suckers,” she said.

The next sound in the room was her clicking off the safety, chambering a round and the clattering of cups of Earl Grey on half a dozen sets of teeth. .

Then she lifted the gun and blasted the ceiling, the gun spitting smoke, fire and a noise like a jackhammer in a cathedral chasing a lost sewer main. Lily-Dale stood bronzly like the Stature of Liberty, except with a Thompson instead of a torch. Plaster and dust snowed on her head and shoulders, smoke curling from the barrel, the casings still rolling around the hardwood floor.

“That explains the hat. Army, OSS or Other?,” I asked her.

“Other. I’m all about the dough, Gumball. Uranium ore. Stingy may be slippery as eel butter but he’s about as sharp as a tea-towel. Now,” she gestured with the Thompson,” The uranium ore, if you please. It’s in the pastries, right, dearies? Baked goods, right, Stingy’s precious little smuggling habit?” She looked to the kitchen. “You,” she said to the lumpier of Stingy’s goons, “Get me those Apfelkuchens, or I’ll ventilate your livers.”

“Aunt Linda!” Stingy said – he seemed genuinely hurt.

“Button your pie-hole, Jeffrey. What a whiny little twerp you are. Your mother always said you were a burden.”

At this Stingy actually slumped to the floor, wounded to the core. I was about to feel sorry for him, but I decided instead to use that broken heart to sight my .38 when I had to shoot him later.

“Charming family, Wheels,” I said to Stingy. “Is your sister by any chance busy drowning kittens?”

At that Stingy buried his head in his hands and started sobbing.

“Mittens!” he wailed. “Why did Mary drop you in the well? Aaaaa!”

Aunt Lily-Dale scowled like Fagin at the fifteenth extra bowl of gruel request. She looked like she was deciding whether it was worth cleaning up the mess to murder everyone where we stood.

Then there was a knock at the door. “Answer it!” She said, doing that little twitch with the gun they do at the flicks to indicate stage right. Petunia, always a practical girl, went.

“Who is it?”said Petunia.

“San Francisco Police.”

“I’ll get it!,” said Lily-Dale, brightening. And opened the door.

An old, barrel-assed ginger-haired cop with a moustache the size and shape of Crete walked in, took one look, and gave Lily-Dale a big hug.

“Darling!” he said.

“Schookums!” she said. “ Can you cover this brain trust while I get the Apfelkuchens ?" And she handed him the Thompson.

“Son of a bitch,” Stingy and Petunia and me all said at the same time. A crooked cop in San Francisco: Who would have not thought? About this point, their spirits gone, the two greasers simply relieved themselves in their pants.

“Ha!” Said Schnookums. “Now are all you boys gonna cry to your mommas now, then?” Schnookums was a walking cliché of a copper gone rotten– had a rolling Irish accent as thick as oatmeal in a cement mixer.

“I aint’ crying, O'Schnookums.” I said.

“I aint’ crying, neither, Mister.” Petunia said. Her fake bad grammar wasn’t that convincing; it sounded sort of like the Ladies’ People’s Theater Club at Vassar.

“Shut yer lip, Missy. You too, Bub.

“Mack.” I said.

”Mack?” He said.

“Mack, Bub,” I said.

Then there was a knock at the door.

Petunia answered out of sudden politeness, brushing past the field of leveled gun barrels like a turnstile.

The second the latch clicked a tall, shadowed man was in the door, and his thin lips flapped and his teeth emitted things: ”Now you look like an intelligent young woman – and a charming one at that - and I can tell you that you must know that a busy household – oh I see you have company, hi there folks! - like this can only function at the peak of it’s cleanliness and modern efficiency with a set of that apex of domestic modernity: a complete set Fuller Brushes. Now I can see by your expression that I might have intruded a bit, but I think that once you see these top-quality…”

She swung a teapot at the back of his neck, dropping him to the floor like a sack of narcoleptic bricks. I don’t think he ever knew the she saved his life, whatever joy that might bring to the world – cleaner rugs, nice suede, and well-groomed hair, I guess. At least the brushes, now scattered on the rug, would come in handy getting the blood stains out.

Then there was a knock at the door.

“You’re real popular today, Stingy. Reminds me of this girl I knew at Bennington. We called her Fast Chesty Trustfund.” Stingy stopped sobbing a bit as a flash of recognition crossed his reddened face, then he started crying again. “Aaaaaa! Aaah! Aaah!”

"Everyone stay right where you be," said O'Schnookums, painting the room slowly with the Thompson's menace. The only sound in the room was Stingy Wheels softly sobbing. The knock repeated gently and the door swung shyly open.

A scrawny tall young fellow with a huge suit and enormous overalls and a banjo walked in with smile.

“Say, fellas, I’m Pete Seeger, and I’m a-playing tonight, and is this where the ‘Send Hitler to Hell Hootnenany and Rag-Time Jambo-rie rehersal…? oh, HELLO, guns out I see, well, this here is quite a situation! And I got just the thing…” And he raised his banjo and stretched his fingers and lifted his neck in such a way that it was almost certain one of two things was coming through it: “This Land is Your Land” or a rapid series of .45 caliber bullets.

What happened now could only have taken half a second.

You could say a lot of things about Pete Seeger, but he was nobody’s fool in a room clearly full of Nazis, matronly crooks, unconscious Fuller Brush men and girls like Petunia. He’d seemed about to have launched into an unmitigated series of Spanish Civil War songs, but I’ve never seen a banjo move that fast, with righteous anger, an unstoppable round hickory slap of justice, and a sharp sting of guilt over the Hitler-Stalin Pact that drove that banjo right across Schnookums fat head and gave Petunia the opening to trip up Lily-dale with the old kitten-pump behind the door jamb trick just as the plump old battleship came back in the room with a huge tray of Apfelkuchens with uranium-ore filling. Lily-Dale fell like a deflating airship and the Apfelkuchens scattered, glowing slightly as they flew through the darkening room. By that point I had the drop on Stingy’s goons: ‘picked up my .45 Colt and the .38 and had one each massaging the back of the Nazis’ necks.

"Ain't no Irving Berlin ever tried THAT,” said Seeger, again, an overprecise Harvard tone coloring the “ain’t.” It was just a little irritating. On reflection, I was being too sensitive.

But that was a pet peeve. The Blitzkrieg of Peeves, the still-blubbering, emotionally vulnerable Nazi collaborator Stingy Wheels – (sheesh, what a galoot) was making a break for it, stepping on top of fat, prone Lily-Dale in such a way that she squeeked, and trying to evade the scrawny but determined folk singer at the door.

I fired a round from the old Navy Colt in my left hand to make a statement. The Powder and Ball Civil War veteran spoke. It said: “Stop crying!” The enormous lead ball slapped into his shoulder. So, he started crying again.

“What is the square of the chanteuse?” He shrieked, or perhaps, being a Kraut-lover, schreiked.


“I’m making applebutter with ox gravy!” he delineated.

“What?” said everyone but me.

“There is no revolution but da-da-dada-daddadada!” He grabbed his shoulder, breathed hard, struggled to free associate.

Too bad, Stingy. He blew it here, tipping his hand. He was clearly spouting off Dadaist poetry. That was Stingy’s plan: escape in the confusion. The Nazis, having shut down the Bauhaus, studied the techniques. It had worked in Stuggart, and once in Pasadena. He escaped the FBI at the Smithsonian by pouring chocolate on a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt. But I’d known enough artist types to recognize a desperate, self-aggrandizing, insincere attempt at Dadaism, enough to wonder if there was any other kind. I made a note to ask André Bréton after the war. But now I lifted the Colt and put the sights smack on Stingy’s broken, shriveled excuse for a heart, if I could find it. No better cure for it. I pulled the lever back.

“So beg, Wheels, beg for your pathetic, fascist, murdering, weasely, .137 lifetime batting average with the Seals before I drill into that beef jerky ball you call a heart.”

“O, Mittens!, Mittens! ” he said, and went for something in his pocket.

So I fired, pity overtaking justice. And the ball hit his chest with a loud clank.

“Clank?” said Petunia.

“Ha! Hah! Ha!,” said Stingy, his tears transforming into a sick laughter. “That’s just it! I don’t have one! Ha! Ha – Look!” He tore off his shirt to reveal his chest, or what was supposed to be a chest, but instead looked more like a dashboard, maybe nine dials, and a bunch a blinking lights. You could hear a soft clunking noise.”

“By Jing! He’s some kind of Mechanical Man!” said Seeger, helpfully.

“Ewww,” said Petunia. “Mister, you are some kind of messed up.”

“Well now that doesn’t surprise me one little bit,” said Lily-Dale, her face still on the floor. "Such a disappointment to the family."

“My heart, my heat was broken, literally. After the 1938 season with the San Francisco Seals...."

“And your .097 batting average that year, you mole-eyed bum,” I added

“My country would not see the new way which Herr Hittler,- Heil Hitler! -”

“Oh, cripes,” I said with bitter internality. “Such a Hitlerheimer sob sister.” Crack that queer Nazi marble and they usually blubbered like an 8 year old girl.

“...the fuhrer was to lead us, out of poverty, out of misery, into the glory the Reich, and it should happen in America, and then I learned my heart—my heart, so broken by the loss of Mittens, as a child, all because I threw out Mary’s Pookie Dolly! Why?! Why!? ...But....well, Well I learned in Vienna that my heart would stop in a three weeks.”

“That’s the least convincing argument since Napoleon offered to let Wellington be the Emperor of Antarctica if he took a dive at Waterloo. ” I said.

“Did that really happen?” whispered Petunia to Seeger, who looked thoughtful.

Stingy kept going. “I remember Dr. Krapsenpanzer – he says to me, he says:
‘Jeffery. You will not see the liberation of Poland by either side. You’re heart- it is kaput.‘

"And then Dr. Krapsenpanzer says to me, he says:

‘..but zere is one way, although you may not like it. And Dr. Krapsenpanzer, he is at the famous Vienna Blintzenpuffer Clinic, you know, he looked at me like love for all mankind had filled his heart. But he says to me, he says: 'we will remove your heart and replace it with a new radium powered vacuum pump! It is a miracle of Science!” And so, you see, here it is: I am a man with a mechanical heart. “

It just looked to me like he'd dived for a foul ball at full speed into the back of someone’s gas range.

"And I thought he was only a disappointment,” said Aunt Lily-Dale, into the rug, as we’d place the equally larger, unconscious Schookums on top of her. "Now I see he has disgraced us all with his worship of Science."

"You ain't drinkin' this balloon juice?" I said.

"Thanks to Dr. Krapsenpanzer....I can continue to serve the Reich!" said Stingy Wheels.

"He got a robot that can hit a slider?" I said.

“…..Wait,” said Petunia, looking at something on Stingy’s back – she walked right over to him and started undoing something. Petunia was no shrinking violet. I got a little jealous.

She undid a leather strap of some kind off Stingy, who looked aggrieved but didn’t resist, and she pulled off the mechanical chest unit.

“My heart!” said Stingy. "Mein..."

“It’s a cheap prop. See? Steel case, cardboard and a battery. You got a cape and a funny hat to go with this, Mister?”

“Well, you’ve all seen through my little disguise, but that was only to infiltrate the real robots, like Roosevelt, and Churchill. And the Air Force! And here, it is you! You are the robot!” screamed Stingy, pointing a finger at O'Schnookums.

“I’m aboot as much a roo-but as I am a stool softener, ya pig’s tit.” said O’Schnookums.

“Are we speaking metaphorically, or..?” asked Petunia.

“Robot!” Stingy emphatically emphasized.

This really wasn’t the conversation I’d been looking forward to. I preffered the “Beg for death, you slime-licking Nazi traitor!,” followed by a brief burst of gunfire where his part of the conversation was supposed to be “Aaaaagggghhh!” But instead, we were arguing about who was or wasn’t a robot.

“I once wrote a song about a robot man…how did it go?,” said Pete Seeger, tuning his banjo.

“Back off that A string, Seeger. I don’t want to have to shoot you too,” I said. “Petunia, get on the blower and call downtown.”

“Ok, where downtown?” she asked, brushing back her long black hair to get the receiver next to her ear.

“The cops, the army, the works. The FBI.”

“Oh, not the FBI, friend, they’re a-gunning for me,” said Seeger.

”Me, too, said Petunia.”

“Robot!” said Stingy.

"Alright, but it can't be just the local heat. Who knows what favors the flatties owe O'Schnookums here? "

"Call me O'Schnookums again, and I'll pull off your leg and stick it up your behind. "

"Only a Robot could do that!" said Stingy.

"I'm calling downstairs, then," said Petunia, and hollered out loud to the gathering Hootenanny below, where we could hear guitars and fiddles and washboards being improperly tuned.

"Hey Fellas! It's Petunia! Free Beer Upstairs!" She hollered just like the metal shop foregirl she was, and having seen her before, about 50 hungry folk musicians pounded up the stairs, carrying their gitfiddles, dulcimers, lutes and penny-whistles, random notes getting plucked in the rush, making a sound not unlike what they were planning to do on stage in twenty minutes anyway.

"Welcome Everybody!," piped up Seeger. " And I got a little ditty for ya."

"Grab a Nazi,
Tie Him A-tight!
And then we'll drink
into the night.

Ol' Mister Hitler,
Ain't got no soul
And Folks Aplenty
will smoke a bowl.

For Freedom, Men!
Freedom, A-Ahoy!
We'll stuff them Nutzis
Into Bok Choy

And then Freedom, Men
Freedom, A-Hoy!
A World of Love
For Girls and Boys!

It was a German hideout, so there really was free beer, courtesy of the Third Reich. We tied up the bad guys good and drank long and hard like it was coming out of Hitler's wallet. The two greasers were wrapped like butterflies, and about as dangerous, and were hanging from the shower curtain rod. The Fuller Brush man woke up, but he then he started eating some of the uranium-filling Appflekuchens and after a while he seemed to light up the room. A few girls showed up from the factory shift, and Petunia rang up a few more, and then someone inflicted a square dance, and there formed a happy swirl of steel workers, Reds and ethnomusicologists. A good time. Too good.

O'Schnookums and Aunt Lily-Dale seemed to have forgotten their nefarious scheme and and sang lustily along with "Captain John's gone Slobberin'" and "The Fishwife's All A-Wormy" and "If I had a Nine-Iron" and "Four Kings in Mary-Belle's Hollow", and the six people actually there for the show came up for the party and about the time I was pitching woo with Petunia on the Swastika-themed red comforter, and one of the folk-boys had started wearing an brown mop on his upper lip and goosestepping around to everyone's amusement, Stingy Wheels, having slipped his binds only to wander around in emotional distress and accuse the autoharpists of being robots, slithered away in the black night.

The Complete Rebar for Tootsie Rolls Stories are at Ironcandy.Blogspot.com.

Underwater Upgrade

Well, I was reading about art reflexivity/mediation processes in Chinese Painting of the 11th century, when I became distracted by replacements for the Civic, such as the Scion, or a bicycle, when naturally I ran across an ad for this awesome luxury submarine.

How does one react? Such a thing creates two simultaneous reactions: 1) immediately get the 80 million together, or 2) run out in the street, and start a violent People's Revolution.

It goes 16 knots, and comes in a variety of luxury packages. Also, it is evil and should be immediately attacked by pirates in their own submarine.

One last thought: pretty ugly, really, out of that awful shower stall design philosophy of luxury yachts. It looks like a 73 Lincoln Continental. For 80 million for a luxury submarine, it ought to look cool, dangerous, elegant or something. Right now, it looks like it's going to have gold curtains and a white shag rug. Only George Clinton could make that look right, especially if he had an eyepatch.

April 12, 2008

Barack Fires Back

April 10, 2008

Ted Stevens Makes Andy Rooney Look like Justin Timberlake

Senator Ted Stevens,(P)* Left, of Alaska.

A new Rasmussen poll, which usually skews a bit right, has a dead heat between Mark Begich, Anchorage Mayor with perfect hair forever, and Ted Stevens, a *Pre-Cambrian life form. Interesting analysis from a commenter on TPM:

From the write-up:

Stevens is supported by just 71% of GOP voters while Begich attracts 78% of Democrats. Begich leads by 22 percentage points among unaffiliated voters.

Stevens is viewed favorably by 50% of the state’s voters while 47% have an unfavorable opinion. Begich earns favorable reviews from 56% while just 35% have an unfavorable opinion.

Among unaffiliated voters, Begich is viewed favorably by 66%, Stevens by 42%.

That's interesting, to say the least. It looks as if most Alaskans have made up there minds about Stevens, which is hardly surprising. But his unfavorable rating is astronomically high for a sitting senator, and is probably more important than the horse-race number at this early stage of the race. It seems to me unlikely that he'll be able to win back those voters come November. So all Begich has to do is keep his own unfavorables down, and win over a few voters.

Also worth noting that this yet another instance in which the Democratic Party would benefit immeasurably from having Obama at the top of their ticket. The man has no chance of carrying Alaska. But participation in the state's caucus jumped from 700 to 8,600 this year. As of the beginning of March, there were roughly 470,000 registered votes in Alaska: 118k GOP, 71k Dems, the rest minor parties and unaffiliated. In a year, the GOP has added about 3,500 voters, and the Dems about 4,500. But almost all of the GOP gains came last year, and almost all of the Democratic gains since January.

Alaskans vote in large numbers - that's what happens when your continued economic viability is entirely dependent on governmental largesse. In 2004, the presidential election and closely-fought senate battle between Murkowski and Knowles drew 308k voters to the polls. Murkowski squeaked past Knowles, 150k to 140k. That was a remarkable result - it meant that some 40k Bush voters declined to vote for Murkowski, and almost 30k voters who didn't support Kerry did cast their ballots for Knowles.

The keys, it seems, are Alaska's independent voters, and juicing Democratic turnout. And suddenly, the presidential race looms large. McCain is none-too-popular in Alaska. He opposes drilling in ANWR, ceding the most popular issue with which the GOP has bludgeoned the Democratic Party in Alaska. He got creamed in the caucuses, finishing fourth behind Romney, Huckabee, and Ron Paul. And while the GOP base will eventually fall into line, his heterodoxy will alienate some of the crucial independent voters. The question is, will they stay home from the polls entirely, or will there be an alternative candidate to draw them to the polls?

And actually, we have an answer. In SurveyUSA's general election match up, we find McCain leading Obama, 48-43. We also find him leading Clinton, 56-34. Now if you were Chuck Schumer, who would you rather see at the head of the ticket?
Also, we should note the National Republican Senatorial Committee dirt on Begich press release - it exposes the $8000 he owes on a tax thing. This is also the only item on the Begichbaggage.com site - Videos are coming soon! it promises. Videos of the tax lien? Wow. That's knock out those federal felony charges coming against Stevens.

Keep it up, Republican party.

April 09, 2008

Car Note

Someone totalled my '99 Civic HB on Sunday, while it was parked. I know the Laird in particular feels my pain, having had the identical experience.

So, I need some advice. I'll probably have around 4.5-6k from the insurance company. I need good mileage, stellar reliability, and some ability to move paintings and art things. Sedans are out, as are SUVs generally. I've got next to no room on price.

Should I go with another (a strong possibility) Civic HB, manual, or is there something I haven't thought of?

I'm driving a biggish rental Kia for the next three days, which is impressively solid and comfy, but has already bored me to tears.

April 08, 2008

I Must Warn You, Spode. I Know All About "Eulily"

In the greatest news story ever, the jet-set aristocrat son of Oswald Moseley, the British Fascist who was married to society dame fascist Diana Mitford, an ardent Hitler admirer, in Goebbels's house right before the war, and who was P.G. Wodehouse's model for Black Shorts organizer Roderick Spode, is caught, in flagrante video, in a Nazi-themed sex orgy, jeopardizing his status as the boss of Grand Prix racing.

Here's just the kind of sentence you like to see in the New York Times:

In a video the paper posted on the Internet but later removed, two of the women wore black-and-white striped robes in the style of prisoners’ uniforms. The video showed Mr. Mosley counting in German — “Eins! Zwei! Drei! Vier! Funf!” — as he used a leather strap to lash one of the women.

“She needs more of ze punishment!” he cried in German-accented English.

No one seems that particularly upset about the S and M orgy. It's the Nazi theme to the orgy, engaged in by the son of the most prominent British Fascist, that is the understandable cause for concern. And as Mercedes and BMW threaten action regarding the Grand Prix, Moseley makes an unfortunately retort: look, it wasn't me that built all that keen stuff for Hitler. The German car companies are strongly distancing themselves from Moseley, who gave up Conservative Party politics because of his name.

Note this interesting argument:
(The Times of London quotes) Mosley associates as saying that the prison garb worn by the women were “American convict uniforms” and as dismissing the Nazi allegations by saying, “The scenario was more Alcatraz than Auschwitz.
Really? Was this during that curious 1952-1958 era at Alcatraz when everyone was forced to speak German?

Side note: Wodehouse himself was accused of collaborating during the War because of a series of Berlin broadcasts while he was interned. No one less than George Orwell leapt to his defense, and a convincing one at that, which can best be described as precisely how Jeeves would have defended Wooster. Interesting quote from that essay:

"If Ezra Pound is caught and shot by the American authorities, it will have the effect of establishing his reputation as a poet for hundreds of years."
The character of Spode, who was a direct satire on the Moseleys, is the most lasting argument, and the danger and absurdity of aristocracy and its ascendants, continues, all too real, in the present case.

April 04, 2008

Bay Area Alert: Do Not Approach this Dangerous Advocate of State Terror.

Law Professor John Yoo of Berkeley.

America is still is free country out of force of habit, and, partly thanks to John Yoo, our eviscerated Constitution now offers the kind of protection from tyranny that you get ducking from gunfire behind a corpse. That large security forces are not goose-stepping through the streets is partly the Bill of Rights' cultural strength, partly style points, and partly the political weakness of the Bush Administration. If they held credibility and political support, we would be well on our way to Putinism in America.* American democracy would become a nice drop of lemon essence in a bottle of ammonia.

But at this point the Bush Administration could not convince a terrier to chase a squirrel, and we have a chance of rebuilding the essence of freedom in America: specifically - the legal as well as the cultural resistance to tyranny.

It's one thing to be a neo-fascist, to share radical authoritarian, militaristic views, even to teach this agenda to students. That's legal, if titanically immoral. It's quite another to personally subvert the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law by seeking to legalize state torture in the course of official duties.

So let's have Professor John Yoo and his cronies at the Department of Justice arrested. Considering the magnitude of damage to American law, and the breathtaking whitewashing of the practices that normally grace a dictatorship, he should be lucky not to be imprisoned. Start by getting his license to practice law revoked. I'm tired of coddling privileged twerps in high office who corrupt this great nation and wreck its foundation legal principles. Too tough? We've sent people to hard time for 15 years for holding crack. By Yoo's own logic, the next president can send John Yoo up on his personal authority.

*Please note: a gathering of people who share Putin's dictatorial view of the executive branch with Vladmir Putin would logically be called a "Putinnany."

April 02, 2008

I'd Forgotten About This One...

The Muppet Show had some pretty good gags, back in its day.

April 01, 2008

Hillary Clinton: At WAR!

The Counselor forwards the diaries (from Kos) and video Hilary Clinton's of hellish tour of Bosnia

Several Ted Stevens Jokes, Adjusted For Popular Media

(Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, addressing a question on investment derivatives.)

1. We Alaskans all owe Ted Stevens, especially for blazing the way across the Bering land bridge during the last Ice Age.

2. Ted Stevens has been angry since his days in the Praetorian Guard, when he watched Brutus stab Julius Ceasar.

3. Ted Stevens would let Exxon drill your back molars.

4. Ted Stevens old? C'mon! You're only as old as your Carbon-14 dating says you are.

5. Alaska owes Ted Stevens, like a whore owes her pimp.

6. Ted Stevens believes strongly in war's ability to replace peace.

7. People think Ted Stevens has emotional problems, but you have to remember than we he was growing up, the constant threat of saber-toothed tigers and mammoth attacks was stressing everyone out.

8. Ted Stevens believes in young people. Like John McCain.

9. Stevens believes in keeping the environment safe into the future. As long as he lives, even.

10. Ted Stevens is a national treasure, like the Smithsonian Institute, or their original copy of the Declaration of Independence that he signed, or perhaps Yellowstone National Park, which was also formed 17 million years ago as the North American plate was transported by plate tectonics to a stationary geologic hotspot that spews hot gases and steam to this day and can erupt at any moment.

Eisengeiste Pinup of the Month

Former Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha "Genocide Chick" Power.

Now, I ask you: Why not listen to Le Show? It is hilarious.

As part of my new, puritanical lifestyle, I've taken to waking up by noon on Sundays in time to listen to Le Show.

Le Show is the one-man radio hour by Harry Shearer, which is sort of the radio-equivalent of a blog, really, with news items presented in a sardonic fashion, some songs, and a skit in which Shearer does all the voices.